What a year it has been, Philly tech community.
Startups came, startups went. Layoffs, funding, acquisitions. A zillion meetups and events. Plenty of tweetstorms and incendiary comments.
As we browse through the year’s most-read stories (most of them written by our award-winning reporter turned editor Juliana Reyes), we can’t help but notice how broad our community’s interests are.
From weed to broadband access, from layoffs to health IT deals, our top 10 also offers a window into that vague concept we call the tech scene.
Here’s the roundup of news you dug the most this year:
Contributor Sue Spolan chronicles Philadelphia’s green rush.
A battle between Verizon and its workers set the stage for a series of lively City Council hearings.
Contributor Adam Bender tries out Google’s invite-only wireless network.
Likely this story was going to rake in the clicks: up until its acquisition, RJMetrics had been a stable source of news for Technical.ly Philly. In a separate piece, cofounder Robert Moore spoke at length about how the deal came about and what this meant for Stitch, the spinout company led by CEO (and RJMetrics cofounder) Jake Stein.
Should computer programs that predict crime be fair? Or should they be accurate? Are those the only two options? In another heated City Council discussion, this dynamic made for some interesting conversation on the ethics of technology. Related: A Drexel professor on the ethics of algorithms and a technologist’s responsibility.
Yes, six months before getting acquired, RJMetrics had to let go 25 workers (20 percent of its staff). In the piece, cofounder and CEO Robert Moore explains why. (He also gave a talk at Technical.ly’s #FailFest back in April with some more detail and thoughts.)
If Philly is to become the health IT hub some say it can become, we’re going to need more partnerships like this one.
Uber got quite a bit of attention in 2016, starting off with the announcement of its new Philly HQ. The year would see it face off with state legistators over ridesharing laws and then celebrate the fact that ridesharing finally became legal in Pennsylvania (and at the Philly airport, where Uber pays fees on every pickup and dropoff like taxis do). Also: the company launched UberEATS and held a mobile pitch competition dubbed UberPITCH as part of Philly Tech Week 2016.
Comcast wants to hire you, they really do. And yes, full disclosure, this post, by contributor Mike Bederka, is sponsored by Comcast, but Kotay’s thoughts on Philly’s tech scene brought something interesting to the table.
The number one spot goes to … the farm of the future? OK, so not exactly your old-school idea of a tech company, but contributor Jason Sherman’s story of South Philly’s Metropolis Farms and how it’s using tech to reduce its water and energy consumption was our most-read story of the year.
Here are a few fun, thoughtful or impactful pieces that barely eluded the top 10, yet are still worth a mention as we wrap up 2016:
- The battle over innovation inside City Hall: then-reporter Juliana Reyes provides a deep dive into the city’s push to leverage tech (and a look inside the burgeoning Kenney administration).
- StartUp PHL’s first investment shut down and no one wants to talk about it: this reporter’s first big stab at a challenging piece, which later yielded some interesting insight into StartUp PHL.
- That eggplant emoji vibrator is made by a mysterious Philly entrepreneur: A Philly entrepreneur turned the eggplant emoji into a vibrator. But as it turned out, there was no “creator Jaime Jandler.” We spoke with the actual human behind the alias.
- All the stories the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk data release doesn’t tell: Philly Weekly’s Max Marin provided some much needed context into the PPD’s data dump on pedestrian and vehicle stops.
- Let’s talk about alcohol at tech events: Yes, Victor Yocco. Let’s. The TL;DR here is that drinking alcohol should not be the norm at tech events.
- What we found at the swanky, invite-only Philly Tech Dinner: Beyond the pasta from Zavino and the chilled white wine, there were some takeaways on the state of Philly tech.